Common Causes of Hip Pain in Active Adults Over 50

It is not uncommon for active adults to begin to notice some extra creaks and squeaks in our joints, as we grow in wisdom and in years. One area of particular concern is our hips, being as they are such an integral part of our mobility and freedom.

There are several common issues that can present themselves after age 50 that are good to be aware of, in preventing or treating hip pain.

First, let’s get an understanding of how our hips work. Made of bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, and tendons, our hips are a complex collection of interconnected and interdependent tissues.

The pelvis has two ball-and-socket joints, one on each leg. The “ball” at the top of the thigh bone is called the Femoral Head. It fits into a socket called the Acetablum, in the pelvis. Ligaments connect the ball to the socket and hold the bones in place. A layer of smooth cartilage helps the ball to rotate easily in the socket. And, sacs of fluid called Bursae cushion the area where the muscles and tendons move across bone. There is also a fluid filled capsule around the joint that helps to lubricate it, allowing easier movement and less friction.

When any part of this system is compromised by injury or disease, the entire operation can get thrown off kilter, causing pain and problems with mobility.

The most common cause of hip pain is Osteoarthritis. This is a degenerative joint disease, which causes the breakdown of cartilage. With the cartilage thinned out or eliminated, patients experience grinding of bone on bone. This can be painful and, in some cases, debilitating. Osteoarthritis can come on due to genetics, aging, obesity, and previous injury to the joints. Symptoms include pain with activity, and eventually even with walking, sitting, or lying down. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to preserving an active lifestyle.

Rheumatoid arthritis and traumatic arthritis (caused by an injury to the hip) can also cause or exacerbate hip pain.

Hip fractures are another leading cause of hip pain. Women are two to three times more likely to experience a hip fracture than men. However, all of us are at increased risk, once we reach age 50. In fact, the odds double every five years, from age 50 onward. Falls are responsible for 90% of all hip fractures, and many falls may be prevented by good mobility support.

Osteoporosis accounts for most hip pain not caused by arthritis or injury. Bone is a growing, living part of our bodies, and is constantly being absorbed and replaced, over time. When bone is no longer replaced as quickly as it is absorbed, its density is reduced. This porous bone is weaker and more susceptible to breaking. Osteoporosis is, unfortunately, very common, affecting women at a higher rate than men.

The good news about arthritis and osteoporosis is that they can be treated. Treatment options range from lifestyle changes, medications, and mobility aids, to joint preservation, or hip replacement surgery.

Talk to the physicians at Sports & Orthopaedic Specialists today, to work together to determine the best course of action for you and your active lifestyle. Our providers are conservative in their approach and invested in your long-term health. Let us restore you to your winning lifestyle!

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